Twin brothers being ordained together, twin sisters entering religious life, widowed grandfathers being ordained in the presence of their sons who are also priests … I thought I’d seen it all, until I saw an article in the Portuguese edition of Aleteia that tells a most unusual story: an elderly widower being ordained to the priesthood by his own son, who was a bishop.The event—which must be one of a kind, at least in recent history—took place in Brazil 51 years ago. Vicente Melillo, an Italian immigrant, was 83 years old when he was ordained by his son, Bishop Aniger Francisco Maria Melillo, in the presence of Vicente’s seven other living children (out of a total of 11), 15 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.
When we see the facts stripped down to the essentials like this, it’s surprising, but when we learn more about Fr. Vicente’s life before the priesthood, it’s not quite so unexpected. We know of his story from a magazine article that reported on his ordination and from a blog post by Claudinei Pollesel, a historian from Piracicaba, the diocese where Fr. Vicente’s son was the bishop.